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Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
Symphony
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
Symphony
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
Recital
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Venice Baroque Orchestra / Saturday, October 27, 2018
Anna Fusek (recorder), Massimo Raccanelli Zaborra (cello) and Giampiero Zanocco (violin), soloists

Recorder Player Anna Fusek

VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This renowned period instrument ensemble, elegantly clad in black and always standing, took a journey to early 18th century Venice through Vivaldi’s music.

The Sinfonia in G commenced the evening with a first a burst of energy, then lyrical lines juxtaposed with leaps and trills, clear unisons and phrases always subtly shaped and shaded. This joyous mood was followed by a plaintive movement, almost sad and resigned which in turn led to a jolly folk dance movement full of flourishes and surprising twists.

The next piece was one of the numerous Vivaldi concertos, this one a double concerto in d minor for violin (Gianpiero Zanocco) and recorder player Anna Fusek. Sections of allegro were followed by largos with many contrasting themes and echoes. The dissonances were exquisite as always in Vivaldi’s compositions. Pulsing basses phrases made sweeping statements, and the soloists interacted with great charm and at times the violin and recorder evoked a human voice and an angelic responding song. This composition was followed by wild applause. The E Minor Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo started in a dark mood with a sighing half step motive moving into agitated tremolos and feats of virtuosic violin solo playing with occasional startling spiccato passages. The largo movement contrasted intimate and fragile moments with emphatic statements and the final allegro featured Mr. Zanocco’s dazzling solo violin playing, phrased with ease and humor.

Vivaldi’s music is full of his expected compositional techniques: imitations, echoes, tremolos, fast passages with contrasting calm sections, dramatic gestures, and at the same time intimate tenderness. The music is both predictable and spontaneous, easy to listen to and also startling and intriguing.

In the B Flat Violin-Cello Concerto (RV 547) gave off fireworks in the orchestra and arpeggios in profusion. The andante was pastoral and delicately sweet, featuring a chamber music size ensemble. Then off to a galloping hunt with exciting fast cello passages from Massimo Raccanelli becoming at times like the sound of fluttering bird wings.

The first half of the concert concluded with enthusiastic ovations from the audience, and following intermission the orchestra presented Sinfonia in C (RV 717) from the opera Il Giustino, and then the Concerto in A Minor for cello, played as a last minute substitution by Mr. Raccanelli. The ensemble was impeccable. The cellist alternated passages of dizzying speed with a lovely slow movement full of subtle rubatos and expressiveness, leading to the last movement using stark staccatos, buzzing effects and a unison pizzicato ending.

Corelli’s La Follia was the theme for Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso, in D Minor (H. 143). The many short variation movements had a rich textured sound, with much virtuoso playing and a delightful amount of humor.

These elements of humor and color reached a climax in the Concerto in D Major for recorder (“Il Gardellino” - The Goldfinch), RV 428. Often played by a flute, Ms. Fusek created pure magic on her instrument as she trilled and warbled, chirped and soared, interacting with her colleagues and the audience in an unforgettable performance. The audience gave a standing ovation, gratefully acknowledging this exceptional concert.

Two encores were offered. The first was an arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhasody in Blue with featuring Ms. Fusek, and it was a humorous escapade. The entire ensemble returned with the presto “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The many tremolos were played with precision and beauty.

Nicki Bell contributed to this review